St. Stephen’s College to penalize hostelers Rs 100 per day for not vacating rooms

St Stephen’s College of the University of Delhi will be charging Rs. 100 per day from hostellers who will not vacate their rooms till August 7. This has upset many students.   Students are unhappy with this notice and are saying that’s it not fair to them especially at a time when they are stuck in their hometowns.

The Notice

“Considering the ongoing pandemic, and the many requests submitted by the resident junior members, students who are unable to vacate their rooms will be allowed to retain their rooms with a modest room rent charge of Rs 100 per day starting from August 7, 2020,” a notice posted on the college website said.

“Resident Junior members are also hereby notified that, if and when the government gives the permission to reopen the residence facilities, all belongings and luggage will be moved a week prior to the date of residence reopening to facilitate necessary cleaning and renovations. In such occasion, the college will not be responsible for loss or damages,” the notice added.

Before this, another notice was sent on June 23 asking the students to vacate the rooms.

John Varghese, Principal of the college has said that the students have been sent repeated reminders since the beginning of July. The college has to Fumigate and sanitise the rooms for the students who will be coming after the new session begins.

Students express disappointment at this notice

A hosteller, currently living in West Bengal said that the college is being unfair. It is charging almost double the amount of what they would usually pay for the room. He left Delhi for his hometown before March 19, when the mid semester break started. The break was due to end on March 15, but DU announced that it would be closed due to the COVID outbreak.

“Subsequently, the lockdown was announced and we were unable to come back to Delhi. Even in the current situation, it is not safe to travel. Students are stuck in northeast and far off places and won’t be able to come back in time to collect their belongings. We usually pay Rs 1,400 as the room rent but going by the current rate, we will end up paying Rs 3,000 for a month,” the student said on the condition of anonymity.

He also said that students have been provided the option to authorise their local guardians to collect their belongings. But that is also not possible since the keys of the rooms are with the hostellers.

Another hosteller currently living in Kashmir cited safety issues while travelling during the pandemic. He said he was written to the dean (residence) but there has been no solution.

Further Clarification by The Principal

“By the time the lockdown happened, a lot of the students had gone for the mid-semester break. Since the lockdown happened, they didn’t come back. Nobody is talking about the fact that the college is not charging them from the period from the time they were not here till August 7. They have not been charged a single paise for the period they were not here,” Varghese told PTI.

“We have admissions and we have to get ready for the fresh set of students and in our hostels, applications are made every year. So we have to get ready the rooms, carry out repairs, fumigation, sanitisation and then get rooms for the fresh set of students, who will come, but we don’t know when,” he added.

“Unless the things are removed, we cannot carry out either repairs or sanitisation,” he said, adding that the dean (residence) has been telling all of them to remove their belongings. In case they are unable to come, they can authorise a friend or a relative in Delhi to come and remove their stuff. Many of the students have done that.

“Now the lockdown has been opened up and there is no restriction on travel. What is preventing them? That will be true (about restrictions in certain places) but they are in direct communication with dean’s office and they have been asked to authorise someone here. I don’t think a big number of students have their belongings still kept here,” the college principal said.

Varghese said that what they are being asked to pay is not a “rent” but a “penalty”.

“You deposit a luggage in an airport or railway station’s cloak room and you are charged by the hour. But we have to be fair and we have to prepare for the students who are coming,” he said.

He added that there are “certain procedures” that can be followed if the students have taken the keys with them and they are aware about the process.